The ebbs and flows of Bobcats basketball: The resurgence of Luis Kortright


Connor Lawless/Chronicle Archives (2022)

Junior guard Luis Kortright has bounced back from an ankle injury that hurt his play last season.

Zachary Carter, Staff Writer

Just as a poet or novelist gains recognition for their unique styles of writing, basketball players bring their own unique play styles to the hardwood, breaking the unconventional mold of what is considered a traditional modern hooper.

Junior guard Luis Kortright has by no means redefined what it means to be a basketball player, but in a year when he has seen a significant increase in minutes, he has put his skillset on full display, playing the game the only way he knows how.

“My favorite player is LeBron James,” Kortright said. “I just try to mimic the things that he does when it comes to being that team player and doing everything that the team needs.”

Inspiration comes from all levels of the game, and it’s easy to look to one of the greatest players who’s ever lived for pointers. But when Kortright turns to the film reels in search of motivation, he keeps his options open.

“I watch more so (highlights of) Chris Paul because that’s where I get my playmaking skills from,” Kortright said. “But when it comes to my mentality, I got that LeBron mentality.”

Kortright, now in his third season with the Bobcats, has come a long way in developing his LeBron-esque mentality. He has risen, fallen and risen again during his time in Hamden, a trend that many basketball players cannot claim to have overcome.

In his freshman campaign, Kortright grew accustomed to a prominent role off the bench, averaging 23.1 minutes per game alongside an impressive 10.3 points per game. However, an ankle injury cost Kortright precious minutes in his sophomore season.

The result of Kortright’s injury was a drastic decrease in production. His 23.1 minutes per game dropped to 14.1. His points per game average slumped from 10.3 to just 3.5. In layman’s terms, Kortright was not himself. Playing through an injury isn’t easy by itself, but coping with the noticeable production decline was even harder.

“When I came back I kept thinking that I had to do so much,” Kortright said. “It did mess me up mentally.”

His decision to rush back from an injury is ultimately one that Kortright regrets. He fought through the pain in an attempt to stay on the court, when in reality he should have taken the time to properly rehab his ankle. Having overcome his injury now, Kortright reflects on his decision to endure the injury.

“For me, I felt like I rushed it,” he said. “Like I didn’t give myself the right amount of time to heal and actually recover the right way.”

With his injury behind him and the latter half of his career on the horizon, Kortright was determined to return to his first-year form.

“Now that I know that I don’t have my foot holding me back anymore, every day I push myself to be the best that I can because there is nothing holding me back but me,” Kortright said.

A healthy Kortright is a dangerous Kortright. Since the beginning of his 2022-23 campaign, he has looked like his former self once again. His ability to put the ball in the basket finally reappeared, with Kortright now putting up just over 10 points per game.

His reinvigorated productivity has allowed Kortright to see more time on the floor as well, with his minutes per game leaping up and over his first-year average, settling nicely at 26.4.

But a comeback like this is not done alone. For Kortright, he credits head coach Baker Dunleavy and the rest of the coaching staff immensely for his leap back into the regular rotation.

“They have the vision, and I have the vision, and we all see that I know how to make the right plays,” Kortright said. “So we all come to the equal point where it’s like, ‘he knows how to make the right plays so the ball has to be in his hands for us to be successful.’”

The decision to put Kortright in charge of the offense on a more consistent basis has exceeded both Kortright’s coaching staff’s expectations.

Dunleavy, who has been an integral part of Kortright’s return to stardom, has praised him for his ability to ignite the team’s fiery offense.

“He’s a guy that connects us and makes other players better,” Dunleavy said. “That’s what really defines him is that he can score but he also helps other guys play well.”

This season, Quinnipiac men’s basketball is off to its best start in years. At 17-9, the Bobcats are, on paper, poised to make a deep run in the MAAC tournament, and a big reason for their success can be traced directly back to Kortright. His teammates have adopted the same ‘no-mercy’ mentality both in the locker room and on the court, with all of them sharing the sentiment that they have nothing to lose.

“We all have that desperate mentality that we got to get it done,” Kortright said.

Compared to past seasons, Kortright feels the team’s turnaround stemmed from an increase in effort and desire.

“With previous teams, we played very lackadaisically,” Kortright said. “With this team, we fight more, we push for greatness, we push each other and the coaches push us to a whole new level.”

Kortright and the Bobcats will continue to push for greatness down the stretch, with just a handful of regular season games remaining before the MAAC playoffs.

For Kortright, he will continue to put his own stamp on the game of basketball. From his high school days in Manhattan through his years in Hamden, Kortright will always play his own game; that is a guarantee.